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OREA releases five-point marijuana action plan

By Sohini Bhattacharya

Realtors, prospective homebuyers and homeowners are growing increasingly concerned about the ramifications of the legalization of cannabis looming this summer. Recent polling conducted by Nanos Research on behalf of the Ontario Real Estate Association says 36.1 per cent of Ontarians are in favour of growing zero cannabis plants inside their homes, while 7.5 per cent deem it reasonable to allow one plant per home.

To safeguard Ontario homebuyers from the health and safety perils of purchasing former illegal marijuana grow-ops, OREA released a five-point Action Plan for Cannabis Legislation. At a Queen’s Park press conference, OREA president David Reid said, “the key underlying aspect of what we’re doing here is to make buildings safe for homeownership and for homebuyers.”

Current federal legislation would allow inhabitants to grow up to four plants inside their homes, although some provinces, including Quebec and Manitoba, have already decided against allowing home-grown marijuana. As highlighted by CREA CEO Michael Bourque in a recent op-ed article in the National Post, while four cannabis plants might seem innocuous, there’s no regulation on the size or number of crops per year. “With very little effort (proper irrigation and lighting) one could easily harvest three or four crops a year, which could cover a large section of a home, depending on the strain of cannabis,” Bourque wrote.

Echoing the challenges raised by CREA, OREA’s five-point report says “four recreational plants is a lot of weed” and calls for a “reduction in plants for multi-unit dwellings”.

In recognizing that the provincial government is unlikely to reject the federal edict on plant allowance per home, OREA has proposed restricting it to one plant for units smaller than 1,000 square feet.

“Condos in the GTA are as small as 500 to 600 square feet. If you have four cannabis plants in there, multiplied by the number of people in that building that are growing those plants, one can imagine the detrimental health and safety impacts it’ll have on everyone else living in that building,” says Reid.

In its fourth recommendation, “mandatory training for home inspectors”, the report underlines the health and safety threats to families living in, near and around former grow-ops, especially those with young children and seniors.

“Whether growing four plants or 40, marijuana plants are fussy,” says the report. Cultivating and harvesting cannabis indoors leads to mimicking high humidity and temperatures inside – conditions that are ripe for the formation of known breathing hazards, mould and fungus. Apart from the obvious health risks, former grow-ops also present significant structural and chemical dangers that can lead to the production of noxious gasses and explosions.

OREA’s action plan strongly recommends rigorous and mandatory training for licensed home inspectors so they can spot signs of illegal marijuana grow-ops, such as diverted electricity lines; modified ductwork; staining around vents, basement floors or laundry tubs; new plumbing; chunks of replaced brickworks; circular holes in floors or roofs; or moisture-inflicted rotting wood.

“This will better protect home buyers in Ontario from unknowingly purchasing a former grow-op and being forced to pay significant amounts of money out of pocket to properly remediate the home,” the report says.

To ensure proper remediation of former grow-op properties that have been diagnosed unsafe for habitation, OREA’s third recommendation, “registration of former grow-ops” requires municipalities to register work orders on the Ontario land titles system record. This step will guarantee the enforcement of remediation standards. Former grow-ops that pass the standards may make them eligible for removal from the record.

In the past, Realtors have seen homebuyers who’ve been refused home insurance despite having their properties remediated and brought up to building code standards. This is because, according to OREA’s report, The Insurance Bureau of Canada regards marijuana grow-ops as a “high-risk activity”.  For homebuyers to qualify for home insurance on former grow-ops, OREA’s second recommendation in the action plan, “inspect former illegal grow operations,” urges the province to collaborate with the insurance industry and mandate building inspections by municipal officials on buildings that have been designated unsafe. This will “protect future homebuyers from the risks associated with purchasing a former grow-op,” according to the stipulation.

Another important recommendation of the five-point plan is for the provincial government to take the first critical step of “designating illegal grow operations as unsafe”. This would mean an amendment to the Building Code Act, thus blacklisting illegal grow-ops and restricting owners of such drug properties from selling to innocent homebuyers.

“We’re really concerned that unsuspecting families are going to step into a nightmare scenario whereby they take ownership of a property with a whole bunch of health and safety issues as a result of being the site of a former grow-op,” says Matthew Thornton, OREA’s VP of public affairs and communications.

The Canadian marijuana industry is estimated at $7 billion. To assume that the legalization of marijuana will eliminate organized crime is “naive”, according to RCMP assistant commissioner Joanne Crampton, who in September 2017 warned the House of Commons Senate Committee of operators becoming more sophisticated in running clandestine grow-ops in residential areas where families are enlisted as “crop sitters”.

The bottom line is that former grow-ops come with significant insurance and financing problems. With the release of their recommendations, OREA says there is urgency to protect vulnerable homebuyers when buying a home. The association has worked with MPP Lisa Macleod, who introduced two private member’s bills on the issue.

“I think now that the province has completed their work on the distribution and sale of cannabis in Ontario, they are ready to turn their attention to these important issues,” says Thornton.

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Start Planning now for Spring Planting

With the Spring Equinox nearing, planning now will give you the joy you desire not just this season but the beautiful perennial flower bed will be with you for years to come.

Planting perennial flowers means that they’ll be a food source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators for years. Here are some great pics for your flower beds.

Aster

There are many, many varieties of aster to choose from. The star-shaped flowers come in purples, pinks, and whites and often bloom in the fall, making it a great nectar source when many springtime flowers have stopped blooming.

Cranesbill Geranium

This is not the neon-bright geranium your grandma used to grow. Cranesbill geraniums are delicate looking, low-growing perennial flowers that attract bees with their pink and purple blooms.

Echinacea

Also known as coneflower, you might be more familiar with Echinacea as a health supplement. Turns out, that supplement is made from this plant that sports gorgeous pink flowers that attract bees.

Lavender

You know it for its fragrance; bees love it for the flowers. The flowers differ in shape from variety to variety, but all are attractive to honey bees. Lavender is also considered a culinary herb and can be used to flavour some of your kitchen creations.

Mint

While humans are generally more interested in the leaves of mint, the flowers are desirable to bees.

Mint can be invasive, though — be sure to plant it in an area where it can run rampant or in a pot where it will remain contained.

Monarda

Commonly known as Bee Balm, Monarda is a member of the mint family. In addition to attracting pollinators to your garden, Monarda can be used to flavor drinks and is used medicinally. There are both annual and perennial varieties of bee balm and many different types of flowers that attract bees.

Salvia

There are both annual and perennial varieties of salvia. They’re all great for attracting bees, but if you choose a perennial variety you’ll enjoy the benefits for many seasons.

 Scabiosa

This low growing perennial attracts pollinators with purple or pink flowers that seem to float above the leaves on long stems. They’re a great cut flower, too — just be sure to leave some for the bees and butterflies.

Thyme

You know this as a go-to herb in your spice cupboard, but the small flowers on thyme are very attractive to bees. Thyme grows low; try the variety “Mother of Thyme” for a great ground cover that will make the bees happy and be useful to you as well. Basil is another herb that really attracts bees. 

Bonus

Buckwheat is not a perennial; in fact, it’s a very fast to bloom annual that’s kaput in just a couple of months. But if you want to attract bees to your yard in a hurry, it is highly recommended that you add it to your repertoire.

NEXT: annuals that please – watch for it – Denis P. (519) 577-8181, dPellerin@coldwellBankerPBR.com

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JANUARY HOME SALES WITH KWAR

Sales were somewhat sluggish, perhaps due to the January cold but, VALUES are up compared to Jan 2017.

The averages are:

Single detached home, a typical price of $554,857 an increase of 10.7%,

an apartment style condominium was $246,821 up 4%,

Townhomes sold for a middling of $371,095 up 14.5% and semis $388,974 up 9.7%.

Wish to know what yours is worth? Contact me at denisPellerin.ca/info

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KWAR REALTORS® Distribute $18,000 in Donations to Local Charities

Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS® recently presented donations totaling just over $18,000 to three local charities.

Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, House of Friendship, and YWCA Kitchener-Waterloo have each received $6,111 as a result of their successful grant applications to the REALTORS Care Foundation (RCF).

“Our members are proud to support the RCF through the Every Realtor campaign,” says Tony Schmidt, President of KWAR. “RCF funds shelter-related charities across Ontario. KWAR’s participation ensures that investments are being directed right back into our community through local charities. Every one of these charities is helping to improve the quality of life in Waterloo region, and it’s very gratifying for us to help these great local organizations reach their goals.”

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An interview with Terry O’Reilly by By Diane Slawych

Why do real estate agents, perhaps more than people in any other service industry, so often use their photos on business cards and other advertisements?

O’Reilly: My research told me that this practice started in the late 1800s/early 1900s. People were moving to cities from the country and unscrupulous conmen would meet these people at train stations and sell them non-existent property. These land sellers were called “land sharks” and took advantage of good people looking to start a new life. The term “swampland in Florida” was coined in this period.
Legitimate real estate agents wanted to distance themselves from these scam artists, so they began to organize by creating real estate boards and they established standards of practice. Using a face in their marketing and opening offices with fixed addresses suggested accountability. No conman would ever advertise his face and they certainly didn’t want offices where they could be tracked down. In other words, the use of a face in real estate marketing was the ultimate sign of trust.

In your show you mention a fascinating study done by three American universities that looked at physical attractiveness as it relates to a real estate professional’s success. Could you elaborate?

O’Reilly: It was an interesting study because this is an industry that relies on faces. Essentially, it said that attractive agents had listings with higher selling prices and higher commissions. The study confirmed that physical attractiveness is an asset. But, there was an interesting side note: Less attractive agents had lower selling prices but more listings and more sales. Which I interpret to mean, they worked harder. Attractive people use their beauty in place of other work skills. Less attractive people must work harder and they do.

You discovered that real estate played an important role in the evolution of the advertising business. How so?

O’Reilly: To begin with, the very first advertising agency in North America was started by a Philadelphia real estate agent named Volney Palmer around 1837. Second, the very first radio commercial ever aired was for a real estate development. It was broadcast in 1922 on radio station WEAF in New York. Close to $14 billion is spent on real estate advertising in North America annually, so it is a powerful marketing sector.

See the full article here: http://www.remonline.com/cbcs-terry-oreilly-world-real-estate-marketing/

fn: Do to my years of business to business work I have never had my photo on my cards. However, if you’re interested in some good old down to earth real estate talk, give me a call, I hope to pleasantly surprise you. Denis (519) 577-8181

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October Residential Sales

Under the umbrella of the KWAR, for the month of October sales were above the previous 5-year October average of 464 sales. So we are seeing good activity but sales fell 16.6%compared to September’s activity.
VALUES
The average price of all residential properties sold last month increased 11.4% to $454,398 compared to October 2016. Detached homes sold for an average price of $541,368, an increase of 13.1% compared to October 2016. The average sale price for an apartment style condominium was $249,993 for an increase of 11%, Townhomes and semis sold for an average of $349,316 up 13.7% and $354,668 – 8% respectively.

MORTGAGE CHANGES
Last month the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) revised it residential mortgage underwriting practices, which come into effect on January 1, 2018. The change will require the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages to be the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the contractual mortgage rate +2%.
Those effected by this change may be first time buyers and the marginally qualified.

For more information or for property valuation contact me, Denis Pellerin at (519) 577-8181 or by email dpellerin@coldwellbankerpbr.com

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Final Guidelines for Mortgages Released

Canada’s banking regulator has published the final changes to its guidelines for residential mortgage underwriting, including a financial stress test for buyers who don’t need mortgage insurance.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions said Tuesday the changes will come into force by Jan. 1, 2018.

Even homebuyers who don’t require mortgage insurance because they have a down payment of 20 per cent or more will have to prove they can continue to make payments if interest rates rise.

Other changes include restrictions on co-lending, or bundled mortgages, aimed at ensuring financial institutions do not circumvent rules that limit how much they can lend.

The final guidelines are generally similar to what OSFI had proposed in July, when the regulator put out a draft for public consultation.
The proposed changes, however, have been criticized for including potentially increasing costs and limiting access to mortgages for some home buyers.

“These revisions to Guideline B-20 reinforce a strong and prudent regulatory regime for residential mortgage underwriting in Canada,” said Superintendent Jeremy Rudin in a statement on Tuesday.

The Canadian Press

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Toronto area sees 35 per cent drop in home sales from year ago: real estate board

Home sales in the Greater Toronto Area were down 35 per cent in September compared with the same month last year, although prices generally continued to increase.

The Toronto Real Estate Board says sales of all major types of residential property were down but the biggest decline was a 40.4 per cent drop in sales of detached homes.

The average selling price for all types of property sold in September was up 2.6 per cent from a year ago, rising to $775,546.

The board says high-priced detached homes accounted for a smaller share of sales than in September 2016 and that the average price for that market segment was flat.

Meanwhile the average price for condos was up 23.2 per cent to $520,411 and average prices for semi-detached houses was up 7.4 per cent at $752,379.

TREB’s benchmark price index, which adjusts for different property types, was up 12.2 per cent from the same time last year.

The Canadian Press

 

How will this effect KW, stay posted in the next few days you’ll get a better picture.